Advertisement

The Ray Rice Rehab Machine hits top speed

It's human nature to want to fix the things we've broken as fast as possible, but when it comes to human beings and what we think and feel and believe, time is the greatest healer.

And time is not what Ray Rice has. Though he will turn but 28 next month, the clock is ticking on Rice's career as a running back in the National Football League. So that's why the effort to rehabilitate his image has been moving at warp speed.

Advertisement

The ruling last week that vacated his indefinite suspension by the NFL commissioner pushed the Ray Rice Rehab Machine into overdrive — thus, the national television appearances this week by Rice and his wife, the former Janay Palmer.

This is all about giving Ray the football again, not about healing or saving a marriage.

If the goal was to send a profound message about domestic violence and the potential to recover from it, Ray and Janay Rice would have disappeared from public sight for a while.

Ray would have gone through a period of shame and contrition, followed by the hard and quiet work of talking therapy — owning his violent videotaped assault and examining what led to it, studying the nature of his relationship with his wife, exploring whether he has a need to control and punish her. He would need to purge anything that came close to an excuse, even if the Atlantic City assault was a one-time event, and blame no one but himself.

Janay would have needed therapy, too — and even more so — away from all the noise and away from her husband.

Maybe, at some point, they would undergo counseling together, though a lot of experts on domestic violence argue against that.

What I've just described generally is what would have happened to most adults in this situation, assuming they could afford counseling, assuming they were open to it and assuming they wanted to salvage their relationship from the wreckage of a brutal assault.

Had they gone that route, Ray and Janay Rice might have emerged a year or two from now with the message: Recovery from domestic abuse is extremely hard. There is no quick fix. You can't tweet forgiveness and trust. Fixing things takes time.

Maybe Janay and Ray Rice are pursuing individual counseling in earnest. I hope so.

But what I'm sensing is the desire for the fast fix so Ray Rice can play football again, before it's too late.

What I'm seeing is what you're seeing — the careful public construction of a new Ray Rice, a young man who seems chastened and redeemable, worthy of a second chance. He seeks the understanding of NFL fans with big hearts and at least one NFL owner with a big checkbook.

Janay Rice is a major part of this, of course.

So there she is, telling all to Matt Lauer, apparently with the same goal — a shot at one more NFL contract for her husband. Running backs don't last all that long. If Ray Rice is going to make an on-the-field comeback, he has to make an off-the-field one first, and fast.

I'm sorry if that sounds cynical, but I doubt that professionals in the field consider "appearances on NBC's 'Today' show" to be fundamental to recovery from domestic abuse.

Advertisement

In a way, what we're seeing this week is just an extension of what started last winter — an effort to quickly fix what was broken inside that Atlantic City casino elevator.

Shortly after the mid-February incident, Rice's attorney called it a "minor physical altercation," suggesting that Rice and Janay Palmer, then his fiancee, had been involved in a little scrape. Atlantic City police charged Palmer with assault, suggesting that she was as much to blame as the Ravens' popular running back.

Of course, the charge against Palmer was later dropped. But that did not stop her from apologizing for her role in the incident.

In her "Today" interview on Monday, Janay Rice — she married Ray in March and took his last name — said someone in Ravens management suggested that she apologize during the news conference the couple held in May. When she did precisely that, the Ravens eagerly tweeted: "Janay Rice says she deeply regrets the role that she played the night of the incident."

That tweet was later deleted, but it revealed an old-school, blame-the-victim mindset bent on neutralizing condemnation of a popular Ravens player, all in the interest of moving on quickly, getting the whole matter behind us.

Here's what Janay Rise said in the "Today" interview: "I apologized because, for one, this press conference was something Ray and I put together. I was ready to do anything that was going to help the situation, both help the way we looked in the media, help his image, help obviously his career."

Notice what's missing there: "Help me heal from this assault."

In all this haste to move on and help Ray, I hope Janay is taking time to take care of herself.

Dan Rodricks column runs Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. He is the host of "Midday" on WYPR-FM.

Advertisement
Advertisement